The church was one of the tituli, Rome's first parish churches, known as the Titulus Eudoxiae or the Eudoxiana. It was built over the ruins of an Imperial villa in 442 (or possibly 439), to house the chains that had bound St Peter in prison in Jerusalem (Acts, ch. 5 and 12). The builder was the presbyter Philippus, aided by Eudoxia, possibly the wife of the Eastern Roman Emperor Valentinian III. In the Mirabilia
, it is said that Eudoxia
, but here erroneously identified as the wife of Emperor Archadius, who probably never set foot in Rome, personally brought the chains to Rome, after they had been given to her by a Jew in Jerusalem.
According to one tradition, St Peter was condemned in a court building on this site, and a Christian chapel was built here in the 4th century. The new church then replaced this in the 5th century. There is no evidence that supports this tradition, and the remains below the church are from a villa, not a basilica.
It was restored by Pope Adrian I
(772-795), and rebuilt by Pope Sixtus IV
(1471-1484) and Pope Julius II
It was renovated in 1875, and some modernizations were made at that time.
The church is served by the Canons Regular of the Lateran. Since 1970, it has been the property of the Italian state.